Sunday, 13 November 2016

The sort of rain that carries chill to the bone - but not when you're following hounds.

More than 25 mounted on a ghastly day of rain and soaking drizzle joined a large crowd of supporters, footies and well-wishers to enjoy the hospitality of the Supporters' Club - a veritable feast for which a big thank you. There was sufficient left and even more added to provide a wonderful tea at the end of a long, wet, cold but most enjoyable day.

Thanks, as ever, must go to the Hunt Staff for making us so welcome and providing such good sport.

As always at the Supporters' Club Meet all of those gathered wore poppies with pride and spent a few moments reflecting that our freedom to meet like this has been won and is protected by the men and women who served and serve their country.

During the Great War Selby-Lowndes organised Bye-days for the troops waiting to embark from the channel ports and a number of "private packs" were set up behind the lines for the rest and relaxation of officers and men. Indeed officers were active encouraged to hunt as it gave them a way of seeing the country denied those who have never followed hounds. The knowledge thus gained enabled them to lead their men out of the sights of enemy snipers.

Hunting was seen during the Great War as an essential service for pest management, officer training and, as this letter from Lord Derby, Director of Recruiting, breeding the horses required by the war effort:
War Office, London, S.W., December 16th, 1915.
The Director of Remounts has urged upon the Director-Genera1of Recruiting that he is seriously concerned in the maintenance of Hunts, as the preservation of hunting is necessary for the continuance of breeding and raising of light horses suitable for cavalry work. Lord Derby accordingly trusts that every effort every effort will be made to carry on the Hunts in the United Kingdom, but he hopes that as far as possible men ineligible for military service will be employed. But in cases where any men of military age are indispensable for the maintenance of the Hunt, an appeal should be made to the local tribunal.
For those who are moved by our annual commemoration there is a piece copied from Facebook, with the author's permission, below the photographs.

The Stern

Who will be grateful that the photographer has not posted their "jumping picture"?


As ever these may be enlarged with a click and together with many more may be found HERE.

The end of a long, wet but enjoyable day.

Armistice Day

Hearing and reading the accounts of men who were there at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 they report many different responses. Some cheered and threw hats and helmets into the air, a rain of headgear replacing the now ended storm of shrapnel. Other men slumped and slept as if they had not found rest for years, some sat, grimy faces buried deep in muddy hands with tears washing cleaner lines between their fingers. Other men lay dying from wounds sustained during the last days of fighting, broken at war and loosing their last battle in the first few moments of peace. Of course, fort years, men continued to die from terrible physical wounds and savage mental destruction. The latter unable to live with their memories, unable to reconcile their survival with the ghastly deaths of their friends and comrades. The infant psychology was only then beginning to recognise the guilt that survivors feel, the dishonour of living when others died.
In some sections of the line men raised glasses of plundered wine and tried to wash away the memories and others just celebrated.
The stories are the same on both sides of the line with little difference between the vanquished and the victors for all had won peace and all had lost youth, innocence and friends. For many, peace on earth was paid for with their peace of mind. Some blocked the memories for years while others immediately set pen to paper. Those who shared their memories often spoke or wrote of the "best of times the worst of times."
This year, on the 11th November, as is the case very other year, just before 11 o'clock tools were put down and the worker will stood to one side, head bare, respectful and grateful: head bowed in deference, thanking the memories of those old soldiers and thanking those who never grew old. Thanks to those who served before, since and serve still for they won and defend our freedom to stand with the autumn sun warm on shoulder and the cool breeze across an uncovered head.
That day in a quiet place that might be both public and intensely private there was an appointed time to stand alongside those memories without the sound of guns and the savage symphony of death but not a day should pass when we should not take a moment to give our thanks and appreciate all that we have because of all that brave men and frightened men, lost. Thank you.

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